After waiting several months, this past Saturday I finally had the opportunity to meet the first Japanese born player to play in the MLB: Mr. Masanori Murakami.
They were having their book signing at two different locations on Saturday. The first one was at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library on the San Jose State University campus. They also went to Nikkei Traditions located in San Jose's Japantown, which coincided with this year's Obon Festival.
I decided to attend the early book signing to avoid the huge crowds and parking issues that I knew would be a problem at the festival. My decision paid off, because I found out that the library presentation would be the last one on the tour... and that he'd only be signing books in Japantown.
The presentation started off with a preview of an upcoming documentary called Diamond Diplomacy. The movie covers the history of baseball in the United States and Japan, while focusing in on the relationship between the two countries.
The film is being directed and produced by Yuriko Gamo Romer, who founded the San Francisco based production company, Flying Carp Productions.
After the movie preview, Mr. Fitts began talking about the book about Mr. Murakami's amazing life. Every now and then, he'd pause and allow Mr. Murakami to tell personal accounts of his life. The duo kept the audience entertained with interesting and comical tales from Mashi's childhood and career.
When the presentation was over, we all lined up for the book signing. People who attended could purchase copies of the book for $25 and have them signed by both Mr. Fitts and Mr. Murakami.
In addition the the books, you could also purchase custom made Turkey Red cabinet cards featuring Mr. Murakami for $25 (includes a free autograph).
Back in March, Brady over at St. Louis Cardinals' Cardboard told me about a Kickstarter campaign to help fund Mr. Murakami's book signing tour in the United States. I donated on two different occasions.
The first time, I donated $100 and received a copy of the book, a Turkey Red cabinet card, and a standard sized custom Murakami card.
The second time around, I donated $75 and received an official MLB baseball that I had him sign.
Mr. Murakami also signed additional autographs for $25 each. Fans brought a bunch of cool items, including a San Francisco Giants legends bat, several Murakami SGA statues, and at least one Murakami SGA bobblehead.
One guy even spent $200 to have his complete set of 2002 Topps East Meets West cards signed.
I purchased an extra copy of the book for my friend and spent an extra $50 to have Mr. Murakami sign a game model hat for my collection:
Plus he signed his 1965 Topps rookie card for me:
I wanted to hang out and talk to both of them, but the line was long so I walked back to my car and dropped off my stuff.
When I got back, I noticed that Mr. Murakami was signing his name in kanji for some fans. I had originally wanted him to sign the baseball in kanji, but was too embarrassed to ask. But after I saw other people asking, I jumped back in line and purchased another Turkey Red cabinet card:
I hung out until pretty much everyone left and actually had the opportunity to see Mr. Murakami sign a copy of the book for Mr. Fitts:
I was also lucky enough to have my picture taken with both of these gentlemen:
When the dust finally settled, I had spent $275 for eight signed items. Mr. Fitts had mentioned that some of the autograph seekers were a bit obnoxious and disrespectful to Mr. Murakami. I hope that I didn't come across that way.
In case anyone is wondering... I have no intentions of flipping any of these signatures. Seven of the autographs were for my own personal Masanori Murakami collection, while the extra book is going to my best friend.
Thank you Brady, Mrs. Romer, Mr. Fitts, and Mr. Murakami for all playing a role in this once in a lifetime experience. There's not a doubt in my mind that I'll be reminiscing about this event in numerous future posts.
Happy Monday and sayonara!
Happy Monday and sayonara!